1: First Newsletter


I’m starting an email newsletter for friends and family and anyone who would like to keep up with the things I’m working on and things that want to share. If you’re receiving this first one, it’s probably because I added you to the list manually. (You can unsubscribe with the link at the bottom if you’d like to.)

This is a bit of an experiment for me, and I haven’t decided on all the details yet, things like how frequently I’ll send updates and how much stuff to include in them. If you have any feedback, please let me know!

General Life Updates

I’m living in San Francisco now and am working at Stripe. I’ve been here for almost a year and a half now and I’ve really been enjoying it. I work on an infrastructure team that builds software and systems that power Stripe’s internal and external products. If you are going to be in SF anytime soon, let me know and I’d love to bring you to see the Stripe office for a tour and meal.

What I’m Working On

Outside of work, the main interests that have been taking up my time are making music and climbing.


I’ve played instruments casually for a long time, but in the past year I’ve decided to start taking music more seriously and really work on improving my skills with a few. The music skills that I’m most excited to work on in 2020 are playing drums, songwriting, and composing. If you’d like to follow my progress with music, I’ve started to post some things on Instagram.


I’ve been mostly climbing in gyms lately, but I recently got to spend a week down in Potrero Chico and get on some big routes. It was great to be outside and push myself on climbs that are different than what I’m used to.

I haven’t been especially consistent with climbing training this past year, but I hope to change that in 2020 and start to build up my strength and calluses again.


This section is for links to things that I’ve been reading, watching, or listening to that were inspiring or cool enough for me to want to share.


  • Swagism - Ghost-Note I’m late to this one, but I finally listened to Swagism this month and it completely blew my mind. It’s some of my favorite jazzy funk that I’ve heard and I think I’ll be listening to it for a long time.

  • Green Twins - Nick Hakim This one isn’t particularly new either, but it’s been on repeat for me enough to warrant inclusion here. The production, songwriting, and arrangement on Green Twins are all amazing and it’s well worth listening to through a good pair of headphones.


  • Knives Out Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom is my favorite movie, so when I heard that he was directing a whodunnit with some similar themes and a great cast, I was very hyped for Knives Out. I finally got to see it last month and was not disappointed. If you’re planning to see a movie, I recommend going in as blind as possible, so I don’t want to say too much about it, but if you’re looking for something to see this week, see this.


  • How can we develop transformative tools for thought? This is an essay about the potential for new mediums to enhance our ability to describe, learn, and think about ideas and problems. It’s long, but if you have any interest in this topic, it’s a must-read. It left me feeling excited and inspired to find ways that I can get involved in this kind of research.

  • Benefits of a daily diary and topic journals I actually read this when it was posted earlier in 2019, but now that I’ve been trying out Derek’s recommendations for myself for almost a year, I can attest that having a simple daily diary and topic journals can be really cool. Even in the span of a year, I’ve been able to watch my thoughts develop and change on different topics as I continue to add entries to my topic journals.

  • Dune This had been on my reading list for a long time and I finally got to it this year. It’s a sci-fi classic from 1965 and I loved it. I’m glad that I finished it in time for the upcoming movie.

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading, and feel free to respond directly to this email if you have any thoughts on the concept.

- James